Researchers Use Nanotechnology to Shrink Optics for Devices

University of Ottawa researchers have done some groundbreaking work on lenses, using nanotechnology to develop so-called metalenses that dramatically shrink down optics. But lenses still rely on space to produce images and the researchers have presented the concept of an optical “spaceplate” that propagates light for a distance much longer than the plate thickness, enabling future imaging systems to shrink even further. A spaceplate can be used to miniaturize all kinds of devices that manipulate light. “It’s a possibly revolutionary development in the field of optical science,” suggests photography and camera news site PetaPixel. Continue reading Researchers Use Nanotechnology to Shrink Optics for Devices

Amazon Debuts Wellness Program to Curb Workplace Injuries

With the goal of lowering workplace injuries 50 percent by 2025, Amazon introduced its WorkingWell safety and injury prevention program. Chief executive Jeff Bezos has long focused on common warehouse manual labor injuries, especially MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders), most recently in his annual letter to shareholders. WorkingWell will offer employees with physical, mental and nutritional support in every U.S. operation by the end of 2021. The program, which comes as Amazon looks to hire 75,000 new workers, targets “recordable incident rates,” an OSHA measurement for worker injury and illness. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Wellness Program to Curb Workplace Injuries

New Meta-Optic Lens Tech Enters Commercial Development

Massachusetts-based startup Metalenz, just out of stealth mode, is readying the debut of an entirely new lens system for smartphones. Its single flat lens system, based on optical metasurfaces, reportedly produces an image of the same or better quality as traditional lenses, while enabling brighter photos by collecting more light, and offering new forms of sensing. The company just announced a $10 million investment that will enable it to scale production and speed up development of miniature optics and a new lens system targeting smartphones, consumer electronics and applications in the automotive and healthcare industries. Continue reading New Meta-Optic Lens Tech Enters Commercial Development

CES: Masks, Sensors, Robotics and Fitness in the COVID Era

As we continue to contend with a global pandemic that has led to numerous changes involving remote work and learning, telemedicine, home fitness, social distancing, online shopping, and more, it should come as no surprise that devices and services showcased at this year’s all-digital CES focused on a range of COVID-related issues. From high-tech masks designed to comfortably combat spread of the coronavirus and sensors that alert wearers of flu-like symptoms, to robots that disinfect work spaces with UVC light and televisions that take personal training to a new level, many companies touted wares for the COVID era consumer. Continue reading CES: Masks, Sensors, Robotics and Fitness in the COVID Era

CES: Seoul Robotics, Mobileye Enable Lidar for Smart Cities

During the all-digital CES 2021, lidar (light detection and ranging) technology was presented as a key tool for building autonomous vehicles, smart homes and infrastructure for smart cities. Lidar, which senses what an object is based on its shape, first appeared in the 1970s but, up until now, has been too expensive and complicated for broad industrial use. Seoul Robotics, Intel’s Mobileye and Blickfeld were among the companies at CES showcasing real-world lidar applications. Lidar is predicted to triple to an almost $3 billion market by 2025. Continue reading CES: Seoul Robotics, Mobileye Enable Lidar for Smart Cities

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Receiving Positive Camera Reviews

The iPhone 12 Pro Max offers a number of firsts for an iPhone: the largest ever display, at 6.7-inches; the biggest camera sensor ever; a 5G radio and a bigger battery. At the same time, it’s not much more expensive than the next level down, an iPhone 12 Pro, with an added $100 for every storage level. The size of the phone — not just the inches but also the heft and weight — might be a downside for some users, but the iPhone 12 also comes with more choices, starting with the compact iPhone 12 Mini. Continue reading Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Receiving Positive Camera Reviews

SpaceX Deploys Starlink Satellites to Washington Burn Zones

SpaceX tested its Starlink satellite in Washington state for emergency responders, the first early use of the service revealed thus far. Initial reports indicate improved setup times and significant decreases in latency. In early August, Washington’s state military, which includes its emergency response division, began using Starlink to bring Internet service to areas destroyed by wildfires via seven Starlink user terminals. Meanwhile, the four-year-old startup Swarm Technologies has placed 21 of its tiny satellites into orbit, to deliver Internet access to all types of devices. Continue reading SpaceX Deploys Starlink Satellites to Washington Burn Zones

Amazon Debuts Smart Shopping Cart for Simplified Checkout

Amazon unveiled the Dash Cart this week, a “smart” grocery shopping cart fitted with a touchscreen that can automatically detect the items placed in it. The shopper can then take the Dash Cart through a special lane to digitally check out via a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensors. The Dash Cart is the result of Amazon’s aim to apply everything it’s learned in building its Alexa-enabled products to create more convenience in the brick-and-mortar world. The Dash Cart will first be deployed in Amazon’s grocery store in Woodland Hills, a Los Angeles suburb. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Smart Shopping Cart for Simplified Checkout

FCC Approves Use of 6GHz Wi-Fi for Consumer Electronics

The Federal Communications Commission approved in a 5-0 vote that 6GHz Wi-Fi can be used by consumer electronics and industrial sensors for manufacturing. The FCC stated that the innovations possible with the high-speed Wi-Fi will help the U.S. become the leader in 5G. Under chair Ajit Pai, the FCC has modified use of the spectrum to accommodate the demand for mobile signals — and Wi-Fi already carries most mobile traffic. With the new Wi-Fi spectrum, next-gen devices will enjoy faster, more reliable connections. Continue reading FCC Approves Use of 6GHz Wi-Fi for Consumer Electronics

Pandemic Pushes the Demand for Thermal Imaging Cameras

FLIR Systems and Seek Thermal, two manufacturers of thermal imaging equipment, are working overtime to meet demand for companies preparing to return to work. One essential criterion for reopening has emerged as the ability to detect body temperatures of workers, to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Oregon-based FLIR’s shares rose about 16 percent after Reuters reported that Amazon plans to use thermal cameras at its warehouses and Whole Foods stores, although neither FLIR not Seek were listed as the supplier. Continue reading Pandemic Pushes the Demand for Thermal Imaging Cameras

Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Read It is a new Google Assistant feature that reads web pages out loud in 42 languages. Accessible through browsers and Android smartphones, it is launched by saying “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page.” Users can adjust the reading speed, and the feature highlights words as they are read out loud. Buttons can be used to skip forward or backward in the text or pause the reading. Google also added native support for sensors in Google Assistant, and a special device type for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Continue reading Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

On Monday, Amazon will introduce a new business unit, Just Walk Out, to sell the technology that makes its Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores possible, with a website launching on the same day. The company said it already has several signed deals, but would not be more specific. According to Loup Ventures, the market for retail stores without cashiers could grow to $50 billion. As Amazon vice president of physical retail/technology Dilip Kumar put it, “Do customers like standing in lines?” Continue reading Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

Humans fear the very real possibility of robots replacing them in work environments, so manufacturers are doubling down on designing those robots to look friendly rather than threatening. As University of Central Florida professor Peter Hancock puts it, “it’s like Mary Poppins … a spoonful of sugar makes the robots go down.” Even if they don’t replace humans, robots already in the workplace are working in management, tracking workers’ every move, telling them to work faster, and even docking their pay. Continue reading Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

HTC Debuts Modular Virtual Reality & Mixed Reality Headsets

After introducing the PC-driven Vive Cosmos virtual reality headset last year, HTC just debuted four new VR headsets: the Cosmos, Cosmos Play, Cosmos Elite and Cosmos XR. The headsets are similar to the original Vive Cosmos in terms of technology and modular design, the latter aimed at encouraging widespread distribution. According to HTC, Cosmos Play is the entry level headset, a basic model that will be the least expensive, and the Vive Cosmos will be HTC’s latest flagship product, a successor for the original Vive. Continue reading HTC Debuts Modular Virtual Reality & Mixed Reality Headsets

Mojo Vision Demonstrates Prototype of Smart Contact Lens

After five years of work, California-based Mojo Vision demonstrated Mojo Lens, a smart contact lens that is still in research and development. For now, the demonstrations are via a virtual reality headset rather than an actual contact lens. But Mojo Vision’s goal is to create a means of “invisible computing,” which will provide an interface that enables consumers to reduce their use of screens. Co-founder/chief technology officer Mike Wiemer explains that Mojo Lens will be “very discreet.” Continue reading Mojo Vision Demonstrates Prototype of Smart Contact Lens

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